KETURAH, by Lisa T. Bergren, Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group

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In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of
what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father’s once-great plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Out February 2018

MY THOUGHTS:

I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review.

Okay, the “Gone With The Wind” vibe I was hoping for quickly became “Gone With The Story-Line…” I do not recommend avid historical fiction lovers open this book, nor, do I recommend any woman who loves the old classic romance novels to open this book.  With that out of the way…

I’ve read, at least one hundred books put out by Bethany House over the years, and this one has been the most unexpected disappointment of them all.  I guess you can’t be expected to hit a home run out of the park every time.  So here’s why I feel this way:

In historical fictions, research is imperative to the success of the setting, the ‘feel’ of the where and when the story is taking place.  You can add fictional elements to the story, but having a solid base is incredibly important, look at the Outlander series. Unfortunately, the author struck out in the appropriate language usage for 1700 dialogue. More time should have been spent researching language, especially the use of slang by gentry, to ensure accuracy in depiction.

Research in etiquette and expectations on behavior for women during this era should have been looked into meticulously.  There were many scenes written, that would not have happened.  Yes, this is fiction, and yes, this is just made up, but historical fiction novels are written as fiction based on fact. The fact is, women were expected to be seen and not heard, be “ladies” at all times, to do as they were told, and act demurely and be the perfect chattel.  The MC and her actions just don’t cut it. At all times, women were expected to remain covered at all times, men did not ‘flash’ skin to gentlewomen of the class the MC and her sisters belonged to. Sure, there were rogues and cads, but they were never held in a romantic position or even considered by women of this class. In fact, the expression of “swooning” was not because a handsome man was responsible but rather because her corset was tied too tight, which was the standard for women of this era, especially those of the gentry who wore tightly pulled corsets to give them the tiniest waistline possible. Corsets also pushed bosoms up which accentuated the stylish clothing they wore, and in effect, displayed “the goods” to a potential male interest.  Chattel remember… the whitest, softest, gently powdered mounds of flesh above the neckline of a dress, the better. Ankles were not allowed to be seen, so pretty faces, enticing bosoms, narrow, narrow waists and daddy’s money was all the woman could use to gain attention.

And, for any woman traveling in this era without a chaperone… nope, not happening. Reputation was everything and this would destroy a woman’s reputation in a heartbeat. She would not have value, without a good reputation from a rich family, her worth would drop.  All that women had in this time, were their reputations and looks.  The man could do almost anything in this era, but a woman…. nope, no way.

Finally, the fact that women in this story even remotely owned property, capitol of any value, etc… During this time, women had no rights, no say in financial affairs of households, were married off for dowries, and in effect, fathers were provided with yearly incomes from whomever married his daughter.  The woman was expected to immediately provide the husband with a son/a male heir, since any daughters would have no right to inheritances and would be passed over for male cousins six times removed. Virtually, any man down the street would have a better chance at getting inherited land and money from the father, than his own daughters and that, my friends, was the law.

With all this said, the story did have/does have the potential to be so much more and could have succeeded if only researched better and edited meticulously.  In all honesty, I couldn’t finish it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try reading it again in the near future. Perhaps, someone who doesn’t care for history but loves romance may enjoy the book. Who knows…

Therefore, I’ll refrain from giving it a rating at this time, but reserve the right to revisit this review once I’ve re-read the book in the very near future. Stay tuned…

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